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European Union - Should we be in or out?

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      06.10.2012 11:40
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      Euro Hanging by a Rope

      'Every dark cloud has a silver-lining'. Is a term used during testing times - Idioms such as this one 'softens the blow' of what may transpire, because all testing times is relative to what has gone, and what we know. Our voting trends are not complex; 'Thursdays' is predominately 'voting day' for reasons that pay day is the next day and you are likely to be upbeat and vote for the current administration plus it is always at the beginning of the month (May) for the same reason. The problem is, the referendum question has not been asked to the British public - and until it does; I remain skeptical it will be. With fairness to the 27 members of the EU; if the referendum question had already been played out in July 2012, a 'knee-jerk public reaction' to the 'Euro crisis' may've played a part. And three months on, Euro skeptics are still biting at the ear lobe, smelling blood, pressurizing our administration into a pledge that could be untimely and inadvertently strain foreign relations - especially, Germany. Questions such as the UK's role in the EU are embedded into the fabric of German mainstream thought today. The fact that the UK are still amalgamated into the EU furniture, has only aided the EU in resolving their collective fiscal crisis - in the long-term the UK will benefit greatly from showing loyalty to a decrepit Euro monetary system that requires deep reforming, not cosmetic reforming which is happening at present. The realization of deep Euro-zone fiscal reforming, from inside out 'may' determine the UK's role and (subsequent) partnership in the European Union. Overall, the actual timeline or how I would put it the 'crunch time' is mid 2014 - which coincide with our current administration's forecast as the earliest time for the big question. Currently, Germany is a 'Euro-elastic band', the damnation is: no-one knows how much elasticity Germany has! It depends on how far the nation (public opinion) views the importance of closer integrated fiscal measures with their 27 Euro partners in resolving their sovereign debt crisis, compared with loosening UK's EU membership. In football terms: giving the UK a free-role as a European Union play-maker - A spurious concept at present considering the UK's double-dip recession of (0.4% GDP decline in September 2012). Proving that alternative global trading partners are not necessarily as versatile as our administration has made them out to be - their naivety is blatant. This now induces me to a soporific glaze, not dissimilar to a; 'chugger's charity pitch' on a street corner - wanting to give my money to an obscure school in a dark corner of China; a superpower nation with sublime economic might! I witness Portuguese nationals living in our cities getting embroidered into black-market charitable schemes which they don't fully comprehend - made possible by UK's European Union membership. Populists, nationalists, and the Euro skeptics partisan views may indeed bring a robust message that we 'Brits did not hand-over our sovereignty - and now is the time to pull-out altogether'. Their smirks and bounce are infectious. Nigel Farage and his cronies have never had it so good, the Euro skeptics come equipped with wry smiles as they feed off the Euro misery - this has resulted into a schadenfreude thread, which in-turn has added a couple of percent to the 'UK's Independence Party' polling figure. Communications in regards to solving the Euro crisis may include a stifling constitutional fiscal reform for all its 27 members to sign-up to. The timescale is uncertain at present; alas this fundamentally could prove to be a deciding factor in UK's membership. It'll notably build up a frenzied response from the Euro skeptics, to put it mildly it will be disingenuous in content, and rhetorical to the point of fantasy - perhaps a 'little finger nibbler - Dr. Evil, from Austin Powers' may appear? The idea that the European Parliament is slipping into a form of fiscal tyranny, whereby puerile punishments will be handed out by Van Rompuy (Chief EU - Council) and co, to the financially weak nations who fail to deal with their own austere promises on par with 1980's Game Show: 'It's a Knock-Out International!' denotes a misunderstanding of the uniqueness that lies at the core of the economic and political Union of Europe. The premise of not being part of that Federal state makes me nervous - 'security-wise' and 'trade-wise' - predominantly. Relationships with our current trading partners would be marred and hinder UK's growth prospects, these factors have gone unnoticed, by which another 'YouGov' poll has put public opinion at 48% wanting to 'opt out' of the EU altogether - evidence that increasing numbers see the EU membership as a boondoggle - an analogy that has spurred on Tory backbencher's / euro-skeptic's 'referendum chants'. Their vocals have echoed across the English Channel - fueling French speculation that the UK's membership is nearing an expiry date. You cannot blame our counterparts in shrugging their shoulders of recent, considering our Euro-phobic nature, exemplified by a precariously positioned Cameron who claims he is doing it for UK's financial sector interest - yet afraid of the term; 'mea culpa', being tagged onto his premiership legacy concerning the EU. No doubt, the closer fiscal control is another nudge towards a United States of Europe which embroidered that way of thinking in creating the 'Reform Treaty' of 2007. In the treaty it was suggested the UK was to complete the ratification process via a referenda to clarify trust to an integral Europe. Six years since the treaty the UK's inertia for a referendum begs the question. Is this apathy a ploy for Germany to decide the hand for UK's EU plight? - Because 'today', I would vote to stay in the EU - however, a bargain has to be drawn up, just in case Scotland votes for independence in 2014 - the UK may play a prominent part in jump-starting the Euro-zone into life.

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        25.07.2008 15:39
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        What is the UK without Europe? What is Europe without the UK!

        Getting on for 10 years ago my wife and I were in Andorra, skiing. It was during this holiday that [most of] Europe took the great leap to get rid of individual national currencies and adopt The Euro across national borders. The UK, of course, turned its nose up at this idea and decided to have nothing to do with it. The fiasco over the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) at the end of the 70s put paid to that. Anyone with half a brain could have told you that was never going to work. It was Christmas come early for currency speculators like Soros and Buffett. What it did do was put the s**ts up the Government and the British Public in general and firmly set the British attitude against a single European currency, come what may. I, however, had had the foresight to take with me all of those coins and banknotes that were to be consigned to oblivion, which I had collected over the years on visits to various nations and had never converted back to Sterling. The little bank close to the hotel had a sizeable queue when it opened its doors and I and other like-minded visitors trooped in to rid ourselves of this mish-mash of paper and metal and receive in return bright, crisp shiny new ones instead. I never felt so rich! Oh, there were prophets of doom of course. "It will never last". "The European Economy will collapse". "How can you possibly have one currency for some many divers economies?" (Strange but the USA seems to have managed and the economies of the individual US States are just as divers as those of the nations of Europe). "People will be clamouring for their Franks, Deutchmarks, Punts, Lira, Markkas, Guilders, Pesetas, Escudos, Drachmas and Schillings (see, even the Austrians gave up their schillings!) again". And, of course, they were right, well, right about the clamouring bit anyway. You see, whether or not you are for or against The Euro has, in general, absolutely nothing to do with the financial arguments, let's be honest about this. The majority of those polled in the UK about dropping Sterling and converting to The Euro couldn't even tell you what the financial arguments are. That's the fault of the Government. They've never presented the arguments in a way that the Great British Public would understand, if at all. But, even if they did, would it make any difference? I doubt it. The decision to support or oppose The Euro is a purely emotional one in 99% of all cases. Like all Major Changes In Life, there will be those who automatically oppose them and those who whole-heartedly embrace them. There are very few in between. There are those who simply come out in a sweat and start shaking all over at the thought of any change. They want things to stay as they are come Hell or High Water. And that's really what it as the heart of The European Union Argument. Our attitude towards The Euro epitomises our whole stance on the question of whether we should be in the European Union or not. Even in the recent vote in the Irish Republic on the proposals to tackle the bureaucracy of the Union, those who voted "No", when questioned, openly admitted that they had done so not because of what was being proposed but as a protest vote against some unspecified grievance they had with the whole idea of Europe. Indeed, most could not even tell you what the proposed legislation would do nor whether it would be an improvement or not. There are those who just simply hate Johnny Foreigner and all his works. The thought of some bureaucrat in Europe having any say in the lives of "We True Brits" has them foaming at the mouth in true "Disgusted - Tunbridge" fashion and quoting "Straight Bananas" myths. The argument goes that "...we want to be able to control our own lives...". Well, I've got news for you, we don't control our own lives. Do you think I'm any more happy about some bureaucrat in Westminster that I didn't elect than I am about one in Brussels? Do you really think that your vote in the Ballot Box makes a scrap of difference to you helping to decide how we are governed either way? Not with our "First Past The Post" voting system it doesn't. Why else do you think that the percentage of those who actually go out to vote in elections is consistently reducing year-on-year? Did you really think that you were going to get a different Government when you voted out the Tories and voted in "New" Labour? Can anyone tell me the difference between New Labour and Old Tory? The policies are the same. The even support each other in Parliament on many issues. The mismanagement is the same. The corruption is the same. The unethical behaviour is the same. The more things change the more they remain the same, as the old phrase goes. Never was it more true. In the attitude towards Europe it's especially true. Do you REALLY think things would change under Cameron? Get real! Cameron talks the talk but will he walk the walk when push comes to shove? The Old Tory Hierarchy tolerate him so long as the polls are going in the right direction. But, if he gets the Tories back into power it will be, "So long David and thanks for everything". His feet won't even touch the carpet. It be continue on with "Maggie's Rules", the Rich getting richer, the Poor getting poorer, jobs for "The Boys", social conflict, divide and conquer, just like now. And Europe and The Euro? For all Cameron's platitudes about judging the situation when the time arises, it will be history; the Tory Elite will make sure of that. The same argument against centralised government applies here in the UK as well. It's why the Scots, the Welsh and the Northern Irish don't want their lives to be ruled from England. That's why they now have their own Parliaments. How long before they sever their links with England entirely and set up their own currency or, more likely, join The Euro? And, how far do you take this argument? If you're a Yorkshireman, will you be pressing for Yorkshire Independence and your own Parliament in York? Why not? The arguments are just as valid. Whether or not an independent Yorkshire is financially viable is likely to be the last reason for such a move. Me, I'm going to fight for Free Surrey! I reckon we would do a far better job of it, just so long as no one from amongst Surrey Heath's ruling clique gets into power. And the true irony is that "We True Brits" are nothing of the sort. As I argued in a review I wrote some years ago (Mongrel Nation in the Patriotism category), we are all immigrants through our ancestors. Almost none of us come from ancestors that originated in Britain. We all came here from elsewhere, mostly in Europe, and settled here either by integrating with or by slaughtering the previous occupants. Celts on Britons, Romans on Celts, Vikings on Angles and Saxons, Normans on Vikings... We Brits are the ultimate mongrels. The fundamental basis for our language is Frisian, the language spoken by those who live on the small islands just off the Dutch coast. Over the years our language has absorbed and embraced contributions from every economic migrant peoples who invaded, occupied and became integrated into "English" society and in so doing, in turn became a "True Brit". Are you proud to call yourself Anglo-Saxon? The Angles came from Denmark and the Saxons from Germany. You're an economic migrant or, at least, your ancestors were. You wouldn't be here otherwise. They all brought their own customs, language and currency with them. Know where shillings came from? Remember the Austrians? It's an Anglo-Saxon word and so of European origin. So, if you think about it, when we gave up shillings when we went decimal in the 70s, we gave up a true European currency. Ironic eh? One of the most stupid arguments I have heard against The Euro is that we will lose the traditional Queen's head on the bank notes! You notice that the argument only extends to the bank notes and not to the coins as well? It's conveniently overlooked that the Euro coins issued in the UK WOULD carry the Queen's head. But, what about this banknote argument? Yet another dagger in the heart of Britishness? I've got news for you. Until 1965 NO British banknotes carried the likeness of the reigning sovereign. Some tradition eh? Do you think that how British I feel is determined by what it says on pieces of paper in my wallet, Queen's head or no Queen's head? Give me a break! I've already got a piece of paper in my wallet that declares me a European. It's called a Driving Licence and it says so in 10 European languages or, at least, it does on mine. New photo licences even carry the European Union flag. So, what are the financial arguments? How would things be in reality if we did join The Euro? Well, of course, there would always be those who would contend that it was joining the Euro that caused the prices to go up. It's a convenient whipping boy. But, hey, prices go up; it's a Fact Of Life. They will go up whether or not we join the Euro. The will go up slow or fast depending upon various World factors. It will have nothing to do with the currency being used. In the UK prices have gone up astronomically recently. They went up because of World oil prices. It would be just as valid to contend that they went up because we DIDN'T join the Euro. So let's put the price rises argument to bed, and the sooner the better. I remember back in the early 70s when we finally ditched Imperial Sterling currency (pounds, shillings and pence) there were those who were still bellyaching years later about the loss of "tradition" and how it had resulted in all the prices going up. One idiot still kept the old coins in his shop and would only use them if you came in to buy things from him. I wonder if he's still in business???? Do you really want to go back to 12 pence in a shilling, twenty shillings in a pound? Let's face a few facts. The Euro is one of the strongest currencies in the World, if not THE strongest. It's one of the reasons that international travellers such as supermodel Heidi Klum, have insisted on being paid in Euros for their work, wherever in the World. It's one of the reasons that Venezuela bucked the trend of its oil being bought in US Dollars and insisted on it being priced in Euros instead. Next time you go on holiday to somewhere outside of Europe and the US, when you buy something ask them if they would like to be paid in Euros or Dollars. Then try asking if they will take Pounds instead! There are now 31 States and Dependant Territories that use the Euro as their national currency and that number is only set to rise as newly joined States apply to join the Euro Zone. They realise the benefits that The Euro brings. It's a pity we seem to be so blind. Incidentally, if you really want the truth behind the Oil Market, get hold of a copy of Robert Newman's "The History of Oil" DVD. It's a true eye-opener. You will learn things from this guy that you never knew and which governments would have rather you didn't. Not only that but it's hilarious. Do you know the REAL reason why the British army is in Basra? The Euro used to be on a par with Sterling but in the past year Sterling has been left trailing in its wake. Just a year ago I could get about 3 Euros for every 2 Pounds, this had been consistent and dependable for many, many years. Then The Euro went from strength to strength (or maybe it was the Pound that went from weakness to weakness). Nowadays I'm lucky if I can get 5 Euros for every 4 Pounds. The Pound in my pocket has been effective devalued by about 17% against the Euro. Now, I don't know if you can afford to give away 17% of your dosh but I can't! And that's before the banks have ripped me off on the tourist's exchange rate! Now you know why European visitors to the UK are chuckling. More "bangs" for their Euro. It's the same with us when we visit the US. We are so complacent about all those lovely Dollars we get for our Pound and in consequence how cheap things are over there. Not so nice if you're a Yank coming to Britain. No wonder out tourist trade has suffered a bad dent. Well, when you go on your annual holiday to Torremolinos you will now know how the Yanks feel. Poetic Justice? The Euro starting look a bit more interesting yet? So, what would be the effect on our economy if we switched to The Euro? Gordon Brown famously set five tests by which to judge whether the time was right for the UK to adopt The Euro. The wordings I have reproduced here are those as stated on Wikipedia but all definitions that you read state pretty much the same thing in slightly different words: 1.Are business cycles and economic structures compatible so that we and others could live comfortably with Euro interest rates on a permanent basis? 2.If problems emerge is there sufficient flexibility to deal with them? 3.Would joining European Monetary Union (EMU) create better conditions for firms making long-term decisions to invest in Britain? 4.What impact would entry into EMU have on the competitive position of the UK's financial services industry, particularly the City's wholesale markets? 5.In summary, will joining EMU promote higher growth, stability and a lasting increase in jobs? Well, let's start with Interest Rates. The single most frequently heard claim where these are concerned is that without control of interest rates we will have no control over our Economy. B******t! The Government has a whole raft of other measures at its disposal to control the Economy. And, if you hadn't noticed, it DOESN'T have control over interest rates. That's the sole domain of the Bank of England. The Chancellor has absolutely no say. He may express his feelings on the subject but the Bank is free to ignore him and frequently does. Base interest rates are set by the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee and the number of times a decision goes to a casting vote by the Chairman suggests that even these so called experts often cannot agree on what is the right thing to do. One thing is certain, interest rates throughout the Euro Zone are consistently lower than in the UK and it doesn't seem to have hurt The Euro or the member States of the European Union. If you're a mortgage payer (thank God I no longer am!) then that must be a plus. Mind you, not that the banks (small B, notice) seem to follow the Bank's direction anyway. If you're a saver, mortgage payer or general borrower, it seems that the banks are a law unto themselves as to what interest rate and terms they offer you. Bearing in mind the huge debt that is owed by the British people (£1.4 trillion at the last count), that alone contributes a fundamental proportion to how the Economy is affected. If our debts are not even controlled by nationally set interest rates then transferring control of setting them to the European Central Bank is not going to make very much difference. Of course, the Euro detractors love to point to Germany as an example of how adopting The Euro has "...crippled the German Economy...". European wide interest rates, it is claimed, has removed Germany's flexibility to tackle its problems and forced it into virtual recession. Well, hey, the UK's in virtual recession as well now and we are supposed to be able to tackle these problems with our independent currency and flexibility in our Economic Policy! Keeping the Pound doesn't seem to have done us much good! As ever, the problem is never that simple and the reasons for economic problems lie way outside of purely the currency in use. In Germany's case it remains even now the crippling burden undertaken when East and West Germany were reunited. The former communist regime in the East had run their separate country into the ground and run off with the proceeds. Bringing Germany back together immediately showed those of the East just what they had been missing. And, guess what, they wanted a slice of it for themselves. Now!!!!!!!! That costs money, a lot of money. It also takes time. A lot of time. It is little wonder that the German Economy has been reeling under the burden. The Euro has had nothing to do with it. Oh, and why is it only Germany that is ever quoted as an example? Let's take a look at Manufacturing, such as it is now that successive Governments have effectively crippled it (the British Leyland fiasco is a prime example). Who do you think are our major trading partners for our manufactured goods? Yes, that's right, Europe. Without Europe our remaining manufacturing capability would be in a very sorry state. We no longer have an Empire or even a Commonwealth onto which we can foist our goods in return for the riches that we can plunder from them, as we did in the past. They've got wise to that one. They've found other markets with which they can trade that give them a far better deal than trading with the "Mother Country". Now it's us who has to pay through the nose. The US can't even afford our goods any more! And you know what really cripples our manufacturers when trading with Europe? The Exchange Rate. The recent decline in the value of Sterling has seriously hurt our manufacturers. When they set their prices in relation to The Euro it was on the basis that Sterling would maintain the relative parity that it had for years. Some are still committed to deals that have resulted in them trading at a loss, simply because we use a different currency and the Exchange Rate changed between them signing the contract and delivering the goods. It wouldn't have happened if we'd all been using The Euro. How about that great powerhouse of the UK Economy - The City? Why is it that the World troops to our door so that our City high-flyers can make them loads 'a money? Is it because the UK uses Sterling rather than The Euro? Is it Hell! City transactions are carried out in every currency on Earth. Sterling has nothing to do with it. The reason they come here to do business is that we are damn good at our job. Not only that but the UK regulations by which the industry is managed permits enormous latitude in devising creative ways in getting the job done. Would adopting The Euro affect that? Not a jot. European and US regulations controlling the Worldwide finance industry, such as Sarbanes-Oxley and Basel II pay absolutely no regard to the currency in which transactions are carried out. What about employment then, because that's something that affects each and every one of us directly, well, not me though; I'm retired! Well, this depends upon whether or not you consider that our economic future depends upon Europe or the US. Certainly, as it stands the US is a virtual non-runner. The US economy is in disarray and those who would much prefer the UK to become the 51st States of the USA, if only economically, would have a hard time getting anyone to agree their case. Our future most certainly depends upon Europe and a common currency would almost certainly open up opportunities for expansion of trade that are hard to pursue right now. Expanded trade equals job expansion. But, however you look at it there are as many arguments for as there are against and there is no one who has the monopoly on the truth. At the end of the day, as I said right at the beginning, its an emotional decision and not an economic one. The question is, do we have the guts to make a courageous choice and stick with it to make it work or are we going to do the "British" thing and pull up the drawbridge and retire behind our castle walls and hurl insults at the foreigners? And that's really what the situation will become. Indeed, it could be argued that this is the situation now. The UK has less and less influence in Europe and the more we refrain from truly engaging with the rest of our European neighbours the more insignificant we will become. Only when we demonstrate that we are fully committed to a European future will our voice begin to be heard again. As it is the seat of power remains firmly in the France-Germany axis. It is these nations that will decide our future, whether we like it or not. Staying out of The Euro and other similar choices will not change this. Even leaving the European Union entirely will not change that either. Indeed, doing so would only make matters worse. Not only would we have lost our "traditional" markets but the one on which our future depends will ensure that economic decisions favour the member states, not us. We need Europe and we need to be a full member of Europe in order that the UK doesn't become a minor European nation, somewhere off the North coast of mainland Europe. The good thing is that they need us as well, even if they don't say "I Love You" often enough. By the same token, we simply aren't demonstrating our love for them enough. It's a British thing. So, that, for what it's worth, is my opinion. You can agree with it or you can reject it. Either way, it won't make any difference. With a Lame Duck Prime Minister in Gordon Brown, who is losing popular support and by-elections at an alarming rate (alarming for the Labour Party that is), the last thing he's going to do is step up to the mark and declare that the UK is joining The Euro. Likewise the Tories. Should they win the next election by a landslide, and the possibility looks highly likely, they won't make any such moves either. The Tories are institutionally opposed to all things European, even now that the Tories under Cameron have moved to the Left of New Labour. Under the Tories we could even leave the European Union entirely. That would be a disaster of seismic proportions. No, it's been an interesting but entirely moot discussion. But a discussion is all it is. I don't foresee the UK joining The Euro in my lifetime. Whether or not the UK will survive that long or will end up broken up into its constituent parts by then remains to be seen. As the Glasgow East by-election, declared today, confirms once more that the Scots are only interested in independence, the signs are ominous. Will they go their own way? Will they stay in Europe whilst we leave? Will they join The Euro? Who knows. Bottle of Scotch Sir? That will be 20 Euros. Thank you very much.

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          10.07.2008 13:10
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          Quick decision, no need to fix the fence

          I think we should be either in or out. The question for me is why we are half way there. It is the worst possible position. United Kingdom had opted out of EU visa regime (Schengen treaty). United Kingdom didn't want to share Euro currency. These are two major blocks in the EU building. Other EU governments and people from other EU countries see UK as half way out of the Union. That makes UK less influential in Europe. It is bad for UK economic interests in Europe as well. I think UK should decide as soon as possible what to do in next 10-20-30 years and go that way. That could be done in Parliament, by referendum, by PMs decision, by Queen's proclamation - I don't mind. Whatever the decision is it would benefit UK if it is done quickly. When it is clear which way UK is going we should press that way. If we are out we should make effort to build excellent relations with everyone in Europe. We will get more respect than we have now and will be in the position to get more from these relationships. If we stay we would have more influence in Union and we should adopt currency, visa regime, other standards and become real member of the family. If we are family lets behave as brothers. If we are friends lets be clear about that and become good friends. I hate people sitting on the fence and complaining and whinging. Lets do something, take the stance and press on... (and now something completely different....)

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            20.06.2008 21:44
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            Pigs in the trough..

            Although the Irish rejection of the European Treaty a while back was rather silly, via that flippant 'studenty' style 'No' campaign (the craic I think they call it!), it was welcome and reinforcement of the democracy of Europe. The U.K has to pay 50m pounds per week to the European Union whereas the Irish did rather well from E U handouts and that was another reason why there was cross-party government support for the 'Yes' vote in Dublin- and the biggest reason why the original 'No' vote was surprising. But in a true democracy the Irish 'No' campaign mobilized well and if they want to be separated from the Untied Kingdom (a war over it, no less) then why not cut loose Europe? Although abortion and European national service were unfairly interpolated into the debate they, the 'No' guys, got the result. The EU uses the same tactics to get the 'Yes' vote, so fair play at beating them at their own game. Sadly the EU rejected the No vote and they revoted until they go the yes vote, which they did when the credit crunch smashed into Ireland like a thurderbolt. The EU were the only ones who could get them out of this pickle. I think Irleands No voters point was that the whole concept of Brussels is corrupt and a self-perpetuating fleecing monstrosity that needs to make up silly rules and treaties to justify its greedy existence. The EU mandarins won't let people check the accounts because of the rampant fraud, waste and mismanagement, the accounts not signed off for 15 years now. Underground investigations have discovered huge personal fraud, especially in eastern European MEP groups... Normally the countries that get the biggest cash handouts tend to be south east of Venice, and so not surprisingly the ones who voted yes for the ratification treaty. But its these 'Pigs' ( Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain) that have almost bought Europe down. To me the EU has always been about the rich countries subsiding the poor so the latter can get rich and us poorer so we meet somewhere in the middle. That doesn't work for me. The sunny countries of the EU are all in big debt and its the central European countries picking up the tab. The Greeks were retiring at 53 on average and 60% of jobs were in public service. And dont mention tax evasion there, as high as 40% in some regions. For me the problem with the European Union is it has no real meaning, and so have to come up with stuff to justify their existence, stuff like their 'Landfill Law', or the new trucker's rulings that will come in next year across the union. These are huge Europe wide projects so need lots of expensive layers and consultants. This is just extra expense for no real reasons. If the European Parliament wasn't there would we be any worse off? I use the recycling laws as an example of how out of touch Europe is with the U.K and how we do things. Some five years ago Europe plucked a percentage figure out of the air on how much the UK should be recycling and how much we should be fined if we don't make that percentage. 30% was decided on and that's why you guys religiously recycle your household waste. Nothing wrong with that and we all agree with it and get satisfaction from doing it. But we are still 10% short of that target, and because local councils are finding it increasingly expensive to recycle, they are taking short cuts to meet that target, not really the point. It's fair to say some local council hate recycling because it's so much hassle and cost sensitive. In many towns the fumes from the extra trash trucks and recycling plants create more pollution than the 'save' they get from resources they are converting to ironically try and cut back on pollution. I don't think this type of legislation by the EU was thought through, deliberately complex and confrontational so to generate those lawyer's fees and expensive 'consultations'. In London it's got so expensive to sort waste because of the long distances between the recycling plants in the U.K., creating those obvious 'green' contradictions, so there's no real profit margin in sorting most household waste. Some council's are not even collecting it in some parts of London, usually in inner cities areas where punters tend not to embrace recycling so much, so a lot of waste is shipped off to the third world to be buried in their landfill, via the Thames Estuary on huge container ships to china and India. As honorable as the recycling policy is, if it's too expensive then the cost will be passed on to you, the council tax payer, what we are going to see next year, hence the bin tax plans. If people find out that recycling will cost you more council tax then it will tail off dramatically for me. I think we would all love it if we would get a council tax reduction for recycling, but the reason the bin tax is coming is contrary, recycling just too expensive to offer discounts, increasing your bills, as do most green initiatives... A recent experiment in Norfolk saw one such 'throw as you pay' scheme collapse as everyone fly-tipped to avoid extra charges. In reality it's those that do adhere to the recycling rules that will have to find the extra money to pay for it if we continue as we are. If private companies can't make money from waste then we have a big problem and some huge fines coming our way. Only card, tin and some plastic can be reused with current technology and it's just a false economy of scale to suggest recycling is sustainable at the current rates. The new European truck driving rules that will come into effect next year on British roads will fair little better for British workers and grafters (grafting is when you come home knackered and have dirty clothes). As from July 2009 foreign truckers will be able to bid for internal domestic haulage contracts within the U.K...driving from one warehouse or depot to another etc. This will enable big British companies like the supermarkets to finally employ HGV drivers at minimum wage, further cutting British lorry drivers money, eroding the professional qualification that is the HGV driver here, the qualification that means our guys are not responsible for so many fatal crashes here (foreign trucks currently responsible for 37% of all lorry accidents here..!), or on the continent when they transit abroad. Now you know why the tanker drivers got in early for that 14% pay rise over two years. That legislation is just a raw example of how Europe works against us. Our once biggest advantage in the universally spoken English language, the language of business, but because most Europeans speak it its Britain they all come to work here. Northampton has the highest concentration of Poles outside London, some 32,000 in a town of just 200,000. That is phenomenal growth in such a short time and takes some getting used to. I am in favor of the exodus because they do work hard and any work going is done here. Admittedly it is a transient population and the communities rarely mix. I wrote a letter to the local paper to try and help integration by the town adopting Poland as our team in the football this summer. The council thought I was being sarcastic and ignored it. But I felt it would be a great way to get us talking to each other. Alas, because most low paid jobs are done by Poles here the wages have come down some, the purpose all along of mass immigration, Blair countering the threat to big business of the minimum wage. But it's also highlighted how weak Britain has become as a nation when we need graduates from Koblenz to wait tables in Northampton town centre because no one else will. When Turkey are let in then that will be the next wave of cheap labor to affect the wage levels here. And on the subject of Polish girls may I say they look great in blue jeans! To me the EU lawyers, MEPs and bureaucrats... are swanning around in swanky Brussels bars and restaurants, being seduced by lobbyists of the big corporations to bring in wage shrinking legislation like the above examples, instead of representing their countryman's jobs and keeping down their bills. All the MEPs have on their minds is fiddling future expenses and salary claims. I have even heard they were going to steel our only Aircraft carrier, the 'Ark Royal', and put the bloody EU flag on it! A great seafaring island nation like Great Britain having to hand over our navy to pastel suit wearing, olive sucking French! Don't you remember Trafalgar, monsieur's!! The European Union are doing nothing to protect the U.K from gas prices hikes either, expected to rise up to 40% (give or take the scaremongering percentage) this winter. It's clear and obvious profiteering by European companies, surely supposed to be working as one under the same unified rules and flag, yet pumping North Sea gas on to the continent at low summer prices, storing it, then pumping it back here for a 400% mark up in November! Browns doing nothing because he gets 17% vat on every thermal and we are left to fend for ourselves and to be ripped off over and over again. One area where Europe doesn't mess around is terrorism. How can the British government push for 42 day detention orders yet allow Bin Ladens so called number two in Europe, Abu Quatada`, to walk the streets of London after winning bail? At least in Europe this level of vermin is quickly lifted off the streets and put on the next plane out. This guy was involved in terror attacks in Egypt and a known extremist mouthpiece here yet we don't have the bottle to dump him in the desert somewhere. If closer Europe meant action on these guys then I would be more inclined to support unification. A terror supporter now, with EU expansion, only need cross into southern Spain from Africa or Latvia from the Middle East on a European passport to get access to the UK and hit us. How is this ever expanding new Europe that needs to be subsidized helping us?

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